Last week we had Dale Yocum, the team leader for the 2015 winning team from Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon, USA, write a post about his and his team’s experiences in the CleanTech Competition.
Now we have a new experience to read about from across the world in Singapore! Ms Yoke Keow Peh, from the Science and Math Talent Programme at the High School section of Hwa Chong Institution in Singapore, was kind enough to share her experiences from the last 3 years she has had a team participating in the CleanTech Competition.
Thank you for sharing your experiences with the CleanTech Competition, we look forward to your team this year!
I first participated in Clean Tech Competition as a team leader in 2013. Back then, the competition was held in Singapore with the theme “Clean water for all”. I happened to mentor one group of 3 students who worked on the use of clam shells in purifying water. When I received an invitation email from the organizer to participate in the competition, I encouraged them to take up the challenge and they did. The group spent several hours refining their report for the qualifying round. To our pleasant surprise, we qualified as one of the ten finalists and was awarded $500 to work on the prototype for the finalist event. We were also assigned mentors from the “Applied Materials” who advised us on how to further improve our design of prototype. We met up with the mentors and communicated through email on the development of our prototype. It was a very fruitful experience and our project was even featured in the local newspaper “The Straits Times”.
In 2014, the clean tech competition went “international”, and I was even more excited as my students now have a chance to meet up with groups from all over the world. The theme was “A solution to pollution”. As the research coordinator in Hwa Chong Institution, I publicized the competition to the student community and encouraged them to take part. 3 groups whom I mentored took up the challenge and qualified as finalists. We received comments on our research papers from the judges and each group was assigned a mentor who advised us on the development of the prototype. We travelled to New York for the finalist event in May. Although the flight took more than 20 hours, it was certainly a worthwhile experience. In New York, we got to visit museums and renowned research laboratories such as Brookhaven National Laboratory and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory – two of the world’s most prominent research centres that have produced 15 Nobel Laureates. We also had fun as we had bowling, shopping and an enjoyable time touring around Long Island. During the finalist event itself, we had the opportunity to see the impressive prototypes from other teams. It was really an eye opening experience.
In 2015, the theme of the competition was “Feed the world”. I had problem finding groups with projects which fit the theme. Nevertheless I did not give up, instead I form a new group and brainstorm with them for an appropriate project idea which could fit the theme. We had to work extra hard as we only had a few months to prepare. At the end we pulled through after all the sweat and hard work and again earned ourselves the opportunity to travel to Philadelphia for the finalist event.
Clean tech is a very meaningful competition for students. It offers them an opportunity to solve real world problems. The generous prize aside, students learned from the feedback of the judges on their research paper if they qualify as finalists. What’s more, teams were assigned mentors who were postgraduates or experts in the field, providing them with tremendous learning opportunity. Put it simply, my participation in the Clean Tech Competition is an eye-opening experience which I will never forget.
By Ms Yoke Keow Peh
Hwa Chong Institution